Georgia reinvestigates first president’s death as premeditated murder

Zviad Gamsakhurdia was the first president of independent Georgia and also the only Georgian president who died while in office., 18 Jul 2015 - 15:20, Tbilisi,Georgia

A renewed investigation into the death of former Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia has been launched.

This time Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office is treating the case as premeditated murder.

Gamsakhurdia was the first president of independent Georgia and the only Georgian president who died while in office.

He died in unclear circumstances in Jikhashkari village in the Samegrelo region of western Georgia on December 31, 1993. A variety of reasons have been speculated as the cause of his death, among them suicide.

Yesterday the Chief Prosecutor’s Office told a local news agency a special fact-finding commission had been established and the group had been investigating the case for several months.

The agency said investigators now treated the case as premeditated murder committed in connection with the victim's official activities.

A request for international legal assistance was sent abroad. Meanwhile the scene of the incident was analysed, witnesses were questioned and forensic and biological examinations were carried out.

The Chief Prosecutor's Office also said the investigation was being carried out in close cooperation with the late president’s family, who had access to all materials obtained in the investigation.

Gamsakhurdia was described as a passionate, nationalist, educated and highly cultured person. However his presidency was followed with ethnic and civil conflicts resulting in destruction and economic crisis in Georgia. 

Along with the crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union, his policy resulted in emergence of the breakaway regions of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) first, then Abkhazia.

With his nationalist line aimed to make Georgia an independent country, he became the first democratically elected president of Georgia on October 28, 1990 with over 87 percent of the votes.

But soon after the elections, the president got involved in a conflict with parliament. Since he refused to compromise, he and his military forces were opposed by other groups, resulting in armed conflicts in Georgia.

Read more about Gamsakhurdia’s controversial presidential term here.